How To Create Inclusion and Diversity Training
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In any workplace, it's important to acknowledge diversity and inclusion so that every employee can benefit from working alongside people from different backgrounds and feel supported.
When employees feel value—and when their differences are recognized and celebrated—employees are more likely to stay loyal to the organization, have higher job satisfaction and produce higher-quality work. Inclusion and diversity training is one way to accomplish this, and this training often helps ensure employers remain in compliance.
In this article, we explain what inclusion and diversity training is, provide a list of steps you can take to create a diversity and inclusion training program and share tips for implementation and development of these programs.
What is inclusion and diversity training?
Inclusion and diversity training is one way that employers can educate employees about diversity and the importance of inclusion. These training sessions can help employees learn how to work alongside coworkers who may come from different backgrounds. Inclusion and diversity training helps give employees the skills they need to understand any bias they may have and work toward developing relationships with their peers, despite their differences. Managers in the workplace can benefit from inclusion and diversity training, as they may be better able to make informed hiring decisions and lead by example.
The ultimate goal of this training is to create a workforce that is respectful, productive and tolerant, and therefore, more creative and collaborative. Some topics in your inclusion and diversity training can include:
Respect in the workplace
How diversity helps innovation
Creating a diversity and inclusion committee
Recruiting and selecting diverse candidates
Bias and its psychological process
How to lead with inclusivity
How to develop inclusion and diversity training in the workplace
If you're creating inclusion and diversity training in your workplace, consider these steps:
1. Assess the needs of your organization
To be able to develop an inclusion and diversity training program that's optimized for your particular organization, it's important to first compile data to assess your unique needs. Although there are some aspects of this type of training that can be useful no matter what industry you're in or the employees who make up your workforce, you may find more success at adoption if attendees can connect the training to the company.
To assess the particular needs of your organization, start by reviewing the demographic make-up of all employees. You may find that there are some ethnicities or genders that are overrepresented, or that some departments are less diverse than others. Also, consider conducting employee surveys to hear directly from your team about any concerns they may have about the diversity or inclusivity of the workplace.
2. Get executive buy-in
It's important for senior leadership to be aware of the need for inclusion and diversity training and approve such measures for the sake of the workplace and each employee. You can start by explaining the needs you've identified and align them with any business objectives that are already in place. This can help executives understand more about how this type of training can improve operations and make all employees feel valued as individuals.
3. Teach valuable skills
During your inclusion and diversity training, incorporate some skill development. This can help all employees, including those in leadership positions, identify how to speak to others and perform their tasks while remembering the importance of diversity and inclusion.
For example, you can train employees on how to communicate better with one another so they can eliminate any language that's hurtful to another group. Employees in human resources can also benefit from knowing how to recruit new candidates without bias and, instead, focus on building a diverse workforce.
Related: 5 Diversity Skills To Develop
4. Ask for guest speakers
To help employees connect this training to their coworkers, consider asking individuals from various backgrounds to speak at the training about their previous experiences. It can help for others to hear how a lack of diversity or inclusion has affected someone else, so they can be better at avoiding their involvement in a similar scenario at your organization.
Before allowing an employee to speak to the team, make sure they feel very comfortable doing so. Consider reviewing their story first to make sure it's appropriate for the workplace and will serve as a learning opportunity for all attendees.
5. Discuss the importance of building awareness
You may notice that some employees question the need for diversity and inclusion training, especially if they feel they are considerate to their coworkers and appreciate working alongside people who differ from them. However, even the most well-meaning individual may have an unconscious bias that can contribute to a workforce that's not as diverse or inclusive as it can be.
During training, explain what unconscious bias is, provide examples and offer solutions so that those employees who have been operating with unintentional bias can improve.
6. Make your training diverse
Since this is diversity training, it's important for your topics to include all factors that make up an individual, which can include race, sexual orientation, age, religion, disability and gender. Explore ways to account for all differences among individuals so that those in attendance can have a well-rounded training experience and feel supported for their own uniqueness.
7. Provide different methods of instruction
To cater to everyone's learning styles and vary the content you're delivering, consider delivering your training in different formats, including presentations, discussions, role-playing exercises and web-based training review. You can also incorporate mentoring and group conversations on various topics.
8. Hire a third-party professional
There are professionals who specialize in delivering diversity and inclusion training in the workplace. You may consider hiring one if you want to ensure your workforce receives high-quality training from an individual who has worked with a variety of teams and may be better able to share important information with your employees. You may find that employees listen more to third-party experts than a manager or HR representative they interact with more often.
Tips for implementing an effective diversity and inclusion training program
Review these tips to develop a training program that celebrates diversity and inclusion, and gets approval from your workforce:
Explain the reason for the training. Employees can benefit from understanding the importance of inclusion and diversity training, and why their employer is deciding to provide it to all staff members. Let them know why this training is good for the business, but also why it's important for each employee to go through it for their personal benefit.
Continue to provide training. Inclusion and diversity training can be ongoing, serving as a reminder to all employees of the importance of being unbiased at work and collaborating with those you work alongside, no matter any differences.
Create a diversity committee. In order to make sure that all employees realize the importance of this training, consider forming a diversity committee made up of individuals who continue to celebrate diversity in the workplace. By making diversity and inclusion such a strong part of the office, it can show the company's commitment to the topic and enforce its necessity.
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